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Fastball Speed And Pitch Count


sgtcluels
There's an interesting article over at BCB by dixieflateline (Josh from THT) about our starters fastball speed over pitches thrown. Check it out. The scary thing is to look at Bush's speed decrease over IP. He also has full article about other pitchers (And Sheeters) over at Hardball Times. The other note is that movement on the fastball decreases a good inch+ later in games. Josh is going to plot that for us and get it up there.
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Interesting -- Villy, Parra, & Bush all have a similar sort of decline through their upper-limit of pitches. Parra's is kind of wacky; I wonder if that has to do with him being less experienced, or if it's just random.

 

Here's a quote on Suppan, which I think is interesting to apply (as a question) to the other graphs, too:

 

 

"Notice that he dips in the 30's 60's and 90's and then rebounds in the 40's 70's and maybe 100's. I wonder if those pitches tend to be thrown to the bottom part of the order and he is conserving his energy for later in the game?"

 

 

Dave Bush's plot certainly could make the case that he's best be used in the bullpen.

Stearns Brewing Co.: Sustainability from farm to plate
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That's an interesting read. It's great to see how steady Suppan is over the course of the game. It was also interesting to note how he goes down and then comes back up. It's no wonder he can eat over 200 innings a year consistently.

 

I would assume that over the years, Manny and Villy will bring their numbers closer together when they stop trying to blow everyone away in the first few innings and pace themselves a little more, as well as being able to control that speed and placement.

If I had Braun's pee in my fridge I'd tell everybody.

~Nottso

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Yeah no kidding on Bush plot. I can't wait to see the movement decrease, if their movement decreases as much as their speed no wonder why we hit a wall in the mid innings. I'd also be curious to see their change speed over PC, if the fastball and the change get a lot closer (and become more hitable)
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Is there any numbers for Sheets regarding his pitch speeds? I just wonder if his numbers would plot closer to Suppan since he's more experienced, plus the fact that he doesn't seem to tire until well over 100 pitches. It really looks like Parra and Villy is just inexperience, which leaves Bush without an excuse.

If I had Braun's pee in my fridge I'd tell everybody.

~Nottso

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It's interesting and may be indicative of past performance, but it's really just a snapshot of a third of one season. Some guys gain stamina as the season progresses. Some add speed. It's not all that predictive.

 

Plus it totally ignores the most important factor for non-power guys, location. Bush gets burned because he leaves balls over the heart of the plate with all his pitches. Villanueva struggles when he's not locating his fastball because it sets up his out pitches.

 

Suppan never surpasses 87 anyway so it makes almost no difference that he's able to stay at that level. He has to locate his pitches and change speeds to be effective.

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The chart seems to indicate that Suppan could be working in the low 90s to begin with if he so desired, but he appears to choose to work at a slower velocity & remain more consistent. Then again, like JB points out, this is just a snapshot of 1/3 of this season.
Stearns Brewing Co.: Sustainability from farm to plate
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Great stuff. It's interesting to see that all starting pitchers tend to take a bit to get their velocity going. It's also interesting that, like Sheets, a starting pitcher is sometimes willing to rear back and give a little extra on his fastball to get the last out or two of his start. Complete speculation but, I wonder if it's these "max effort" fastballs that has more potential to hurt a pitcher?

 

Dave Bush's plot certainly could make the case that he's best be used in the bullpen.

 

Let's keep in mind, this data is only from his starts this year. His velocity was significantly down during his first few starts, so I wonder if there was something going on, there. Certainly, something that needs to be looked at later in the season.

 

Also, it would be interesting to see is a starting pitcher's endurance is better or worse earlier in the season vs. later in the season. Hopefully Josh will rerun this study for starts coming later in the season.

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Plus it totally ignores the most important factor for non-power guys, location. Bush gets burned because he leaves balls over the heart of the plate with all his pitches. Villanueva struggles when he's not locating his fastball because it sets up his out pitches.

This could be a stretch, but couldn't fastball speed be somewhat indicative of how the location is going? If a guy's fastball goes down drastically, it could be that he's having trouble locating it and trying to compensate. Just a thought.

If I had Braun's pee in my fridge I'd tell everybody.

~Nottso

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Doesn't Parra throw a split or at the very least more than one type and speed of fastball? I think that would explain his FB speed being all over the place.

Fan is short for fanatic.

I blame Wang.

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There's a post by dixie about his pitches.

 

The four seamer is clearly the cluster around 92 MPHs with vertical movement of around 10 inches. That is classic four seam goodness there. His change is around 84 MPH with a large spread in vertical movement but if there were some two seamers in there you would expect them to be in the high 80's with about 5 inches of vertical movement.

 

Dixie also posted the movement charts.

 

http://baseball.bornbybits.com/bcb/bush_move.gif

http://baseball.bornbybits.com/bcb/sheets_move.gif

http://baseball.bornbybits.com/bcb/suppan_move.gif

http://baseball.bornbybits.com/bcb/parra_move.gif

http://baseball.bornbybits.com/bcb/villy_move.gif

 

It seems that Bush becomes very hittable around 50 - 60 pitches and then recovers. His fastball seems to slow down a mph or two and moves a few inches less.

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All it really says is that when Bush tires he needs to be taken out, he just tires at different points depending on the game. But again his first two starts, 20% or so of the sample was completely out of line with how Bush pitched in his career (ie tons of walks).
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a starting pitcher is sometimes willing to rear back and give a little extra on his fastball to get the last out or two of his start. Complete speculation but, I wonder if it's these "max effort" fastballs that has more potential to hurt a pitcher?

 

Interesting take on what is causing the uptick from pitches 100-110 for all pitchers. I think it might just be selection bias, caused by the widely-used 100 pitch pull-point for most pitchers. Ask yourself this, what kind of pitcher is routinely allowed to throw more pitches than 100? Is this pitcher less or more likely than a pitcher who is pulled by pitch 100 in virtually all his starts to maintain more of his fastball velocity throughout his start? I think the answer is a pretty clear "more likely", in fact, I think that it is pretty close to a truism that he would be.

 

Doesn't Parra throw a split or at the very least more than one type and speed of fastball? I think that would explain his FB speed being all over the place.

 

Pitch F/X shouldn't have too much trouble distinguishing between 4 seamers and splitters. There would be a mph difference and a movement difference. As a complete aside, has anybody ever actually seen a Parra splitter? Every time Rock asks "was that the splitter?", I think it was just a change-up. If he does throw one, iit's not often.

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Brawndo the Thirst Mutilator wrote:

Interesting take on what is causing the uptick from pitches 100-110 for all pitchers.

Maybe pitchers don't reach the 100+ pitch point unless they are throwing well. There is also a wide spread for half the pitchers at the 90 pitch mark. If they are at the bottom they get pulled, hopefully, and if their velocity is up they stay in.

 

Not really sure about Parra, I was just throwing that out there as a possible reason

Fan is short for fanatic.

I blame Wang.

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Ask yourself this, what kind of pitcher is routinely allowed to throw more pitches than 100? Is this pitcher less or more likely than a pitcher who is pulled by pitch 100 in virtually all his starts to maintain more of his fastball velocity throughout his start?

I was specifically thinking of Sheets when I made that comment. I took a look at his first 3 starts and got 3 diferent velocity curves:

It took him a long time to get up his velocity in his first start (not too surprising):

http://bp1.blogger.com/_6re9ICYATiE/R_ROQUaWHtI/AAAAAAAAACU/DUat1cJa7E0/s400/sheets_small.jpg
(NOTE: I'm only looking at fastball pitches, which I don't think is the right way to look at it, in retrospect)


It took a little less time to get his velocity up there in his second start:

http://bp0.blogger.com/_6re9ICYATiE/R_rS9kaWHuI/AAAAAAAAACc/4j7-xIFeAyw/s400/sheets0406.jpg

Those starts are pretty representative of what Josh found in the aggregate:

http://baseball.bornbybits.com/THT/Sheets.gif

What about that uptick? Well Sheets (and I assume other starting pitchers) are willing and/or able to add a couple miles an hour to their fastball if they need to. That's what I think we saw during Sheet's third start::

http://milwaukee.brewers.mlb.com/news/wrap.jsp?ymd=20080412&content_id=2519819&vkey=wrapup2005&fext=.jsp&team=away&c_id=mil

The last fastball Sheets through was also one of his fastest (On his 115th pitch in the 8th, he was trying to strikeout Beltran to get the final out of the inning):

http://i14.photobucket.com/albums/a345/rluzinski/fastball_vel_0412.jpg

He did the same thing thing trying to finish the complete game against the Astros a couple starts back. He threw a 96 MPH fastball to Berkman on his 116th pitch of the evening. I don't think he always does that though. Just when he wants to.

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Russ -- I buy your account as an explanation for Sheets's resurgence from pitches 90 - 100. He probably typically expects to come out of the game at the end of the inning when he is throwing those pitches, so there's no point in keeping anything in the tank.

 

Given his usage pattern, I also wouldn't find it that surprising that he isn't doing that as much after pitch 100, which would explain why the velocity drops back down. Put it this way, if you're Ben Sheets, and you're pitching really well (well enough that you're still in the game after 100 pitches), you probably should plan on finishing the game. Even if you're up by half a dozen runs. Sigh.

 

Or, he's just usually too tired after pitch 100 to find the couple of extra mph when he reaches for it. That seems unlikely, though. While it's treated as some sort of mystical barrier, there is probably nothing particularly special about the 100th pitch. We humans like round numbers for some reason.

 

I think that the sample-wide uptick after pitch 100 has more to do with the selection bias issues, though.

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I think that the sample-wide uptick after pitch 100 has more to do with the selection bias issues, though.

 

O, I agree. The sample of pitchers in the 1-10 pitch bucket are not the same guys in the 100-110 bucket. Just seeing how varied the graphs are from hte guys Josh looked at, I wouldn't be comfortable assuming any "standard" curve for a starting pitcher.

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I did toy with some different samples and yes the further you go out the more likely it is a good pitcher pitching. Besides the Arroyo piece last week at THT I have been trying

hard to push the envelope on what we can do with PITCHf/x. The aging curve analysis a couple of weeks ago is a good example. It certainly has issues but I really wanted to show that this data is the now not the future and some pretty nice hard core things can be done. Look for more of that in the upcoming weeks.

 

I am glad you guys liked the brewer specific stuff as well. Obviously it is early in the season and you can see the large errors on the points. Still, it does shed some light as to what is going on with the starters. I really wonder just how much things like that are known to the front office and how much isn't. I wonder if they really care about things like that study actually.

 

-josh

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Hey Josh...I don't know how many baseball teams are making good use of this data yet, but they should be. I didn't mean to imply that there were issues with how you framed the study -- just that the weird little uptick at the end of the curve (which initially struck me as pretty odd) was actually rather easily explicable as a simple selection bias issue. In no way does that undermine the validity of your findings.

 

Matter of fact, I've enjoyed all the PITCHf/x articles you've put out at the Hardball Times. Keep 'em coming.

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